Yes, Grapes is Paleo!
The Ever Popular Grapes
Grape is a berry fruit from the woody vines of the plant Vitis and it comes in clusters. It can be red, black, dark blue yellow or green in color and is typically in small round shape with semi-translucent flesh and smooth skin. Some grapes contain edible seeds while others are seedless.
Grapes are known to be wildly grown in many continents such as Asia, Africa and North America. They have long and abundant history and have been grown since historic times. Evidence suggests that they were cultivated in Asia around 5000 BC. Grapes were referred to as fruit of the vine in numerous biblical stories and were pictured in hieroglyphics in ancient Egyptian burial.
There are many varieties of grapes but the most common ones are the table, wine and raisin grapes. Table grapes are often larger in size with thin skins and are propagated to be seedless. Wine grapes are smaller in size and contain seeds with thick skins.
Grapes have been popular worldwide because of its portability, unique texture and sweet, tart flavor. They can be eaten fresh and as addition to salads or can be used to make wine, jam, juice, jelly raisin, oil and even vinegar.
Nutritional Profile of Grapes
Grapes are extremely high in essential nutrients with very low calories and are very good sources of vitamin C and potassium. They also contain choline, fiber, magnesium, calcium and polyphenols. Reservatrol is a polyphenol that is found in the skin of grapes and they have shown antifungal and antioxidant properties. It also inhibits oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol, therefore preventing heart disease. Flavanoids myricetin and quercetin are also present in grapes which can help the body counteract the effects of harmful free radicals. Carotenoids beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are also provided by grapes in valuable amounts.
High in water content fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense. Grapes are good example of this which makes it good for hydration. A cup of grapes contain 70 mL of fluid.
Health Benefits of Grapes
There are numerous potential health benefits that grapes offer and there are even studies associating them with prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other condition.
Antioxidants and Cancer
Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants in grapes making them a natural protection against many types of cancers. In addition to vitamin C and manganese which act as natural antioxidants, carotenoids, resveratrol and stilbenes are other antioxidants found in grapes. These antioxidants can help protect the cell membranes from free radicals. The greater concentration of these antioxidants is found in the skin and seeds of grapes.
Along with the antioxidant support of grapes, they also provide strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Consuming grapes may help alleviate symptoms of allergies including runny nose, watery eyes and hives. Grapes have also been found to decrease risk of excessive and unwanted inflammation in the cardiovascular system that causes atherosclerosis.
Heart Disease Prevention
Grapes contain high levels of polyphenols which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing blood pressure. Quercetin in particular is a natural anti-inflammatory that lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the effect of bad cholesterol. Both fiber and potassium which are present in grapes also support heart health. High potassium together with low sodium intake can reduce the risk of stroke. Grapes also increase nitric oxide levels in the blood therefore preventing blood clots.
Grapes are low in glycemic index with values ranging in between 43-53. Studies in grapes have shown that it has effect on better blood sugar balance, insulin regulation and increased insulin sensitivity. This is because of the phytonutrients found in grapes. Resveratrol is a polyphenol in grapes that can protect against diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy which are caused by poorly controlled diabetes.
Another benefit of fiber in grapes is that it is essential for eliminating constipation. It helps in toning up intestinal muscles, relieving chronic constipation. Fiber also builds up bulk that promotes formation and excretion of healthy stools. Grapes contain high amounts of water that can keep the body hydrated, making the bowel movement regular.
Anti-aging and Skin Health
Resveratrol is a stilbene phytonutrient derived from red grapes which provides anti-aging benefits and is effective in treating acne.
Studies have shown that grapes consumption can prevent age-related loss of vision and macular degeneration.
Caution on Grape Consumption
While grapes are low in glycemic index, it is also quite high in sugar. This may be helpful to people who wants to gain weight but definitely not on those who are trying to lose some. It is recommended to consume grapes in moderation,
What Experts Say About Grapes
“Olives, dates, figs, and grapes were some of the first fruits to be domesticated, and pits from these fruits initially appear in the archeological record about 6,000 years ago in the Near East.” – Dr. Loren Cordain
All you ever wanted to know about Grapes and Paleo
The Paleo Diet. Fruits and Sugars
Paleo Porn. Are Grapes Paleo?
Ultimate Paleo Guide. Paleo Diet Food List
Mark’s Daily Apple. Primal Blueprint Shopping List
Paleo Leap. Fried Fruit and Sugar: Would you eat 180 Grapes?
Paleo Blog. Best Low Calorie Fruits and Vegetables
Medical News Today. Grapes: Health Benefits, Facts, Research
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Grapes
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photo credit: aronalison Red and Green Grapes